BGE: Beware of Utility Imposters Posing Over the Phone or In Person

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Scam artists will try to get your credit card information over the phone. Don’t give it away to anyone who calls you.

We got this consumer alert from Baltimore Gas and Electric. Please share and pass along — especially to friends and neighbors who might be vulnerable to such con artists.

BGE Cautions Customers to be Aware of Utility Imposters and to Always be Vigilant About Personal and Home Safety

Individuals may misrepresent themselves as BGE employees in person or over the telephone in order to steal money, obtain credit card information or gain entry into customers’ homes

BALTIMORE (Oct. 30, 2013) – Safety is a top priority at Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) and as such, the company is launching an educational campaign to inform customers about potential utility imposters in an effort to help customers protect themselves and their families’ personal information, and homes or businesses. BGE urges customers to be aware of individuals who may pose as a BGE employee either in person or over the telephone in an attempt to steal money and other valuables by gaining access to customer homes or businesses or to gain credit card information. Imposters may even wear “official-looking” clothing and carry fake credentials. BGE urges customers to always call BGE at 800.685.0123 to verify an employee’s credentials or with any questions or concerns. If at any time, customers are concerned for their safety, they should contact 911.

“The safety of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we encourage our customers to be vigilant about their safety in their homes and businesses,” said Carol Dodson, vice president and chief customer officer for BGE. “At times, a BGE representative may require entry into the customer’s home, if the entry is requested, the customer should always ask to see photo identification. All BGE employees and contractors carry company identification badges, which should be visible at all times, displaying their name, photograph and identification number.”

As a reminder, BGE no longer accepts cash payments in the field and generally only requires entry into a customer’s home in response to gas or electric emergencies, to check BGE equipment, read BGE meters, install new BGE electric and natural gas smart meters, or to start or stop service.

In recent months, BGE has seen an increase in customers contacted as part of a scam that is targeting its customers over the telephone. The callers claim to represent BGE and tell customers their service is scheduled to be terminated and that they should make a payment by purchasing a “Green Dot” Visa credit card. The customers are then directed to call another phone number where information is obtained from the credit card and the monetary value is removed from the card. This is a scam and the funds are not being used for a BGE bill. To avoid this specific scam, customers can ask for the name on the account, the account address and the exact past-due balance. If the caller cannot provide that information, customers should not provide any type of payment or financial information.

BGE offers customers safe, convenient ways to make payments including calling the BGE customer contact center at 800.685.0123, online at bge.com, by mail and at authorized America’s Cash Express and Global Express locations. For any questions about accepted BGE payment methods, or to verify the identification of any persons requesting customer information or entry into a home or business, contact BGE at 800.685.0123. Customers can also find information about payment options and protecting themselves and their families against utility imposters at bge.com. If customers are contacted as part of this scam, the company asks them to call local law enforcement and the BGE Customer Contact Center immediately at 800.685.0123.

BGE works closely with local law enforcement to address these types of issues, but also urges customers to take an active role in ensuring their safety against imposters by taking the following steps:

·         Customers should never open their door to someone they don’t recognize and should always ask for a photo ID through the door or window, especially if you did not request a visit from BGE.

·         All BGE employees and contractors carry company identification badges, displaying their name, photograph and identification number. To verify a BGE employee’s identity or work being done at your home, call BGE at 800-685-0123.

·         Customers who encounter suspicious activity or suspected utility imposters are urged to contact the police immediately.

BGE encourages customers to share these safety tips with elderly family members, friends and children. For more information, visit bge.com.

In addition, BGE customers have the option of purchasing natural gas and electricity from third-party suppliers and representatives of these companies may contact customers in person, by mail or telephone seeking their business. They may also ask to see the customer’s BGE bill. Representatives of third-party suppliers should carry identification from the company for which they work, not BGE. Customers should not hesitate to ask to see their badge and verify their identification.  For more information on customer choice, visit bge.com/choice.

BGE will continue to provide important safety information to customers via the company’s monthly bill insert, BGE Connections, social media and on its website at bge.com.

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About Mitchelle Stephenson

I've gotta tell Mitchelle! Send your South County news tips, brag on your fab volunteers, talk traffic, police and fire or just say "howdy" to Mitchelle Stephenson, co-founding editor of the South River Source. Mitchelle@SouthRiverSource.com or reach me in person on mobile: 410-353-4706.

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